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Cable Technology Feature Article

February 05, 2010

Online Video Competes with DVR Use, Not Cable TV

By Gary Kim, Contributing Editor

Online video viewing competes with time-shifted digital video recorder viewing, not with live broadcast TV, Nielsen suggests.
Nielsen’s online panel data of U.S. visitors to online TV sites (ABC.com, CBS.com, CWTV.com, Hulu (News - Alert).com or NBC.com) over the last 30 days found more differences than similarities when it came to viewing behavior, demographics and even ad effectiveness -- between broadcast and cable viewing and online viewing.
“The broader usage patterns suggest that online video is, for the most part, a replacement of DVR use, or used by those who do not have immediate access to TV,” said Nielsen. “In short, TV network content online is used to catch up with programming, and not typically as a replacement for TV viewing.”
About 54 percent of respondents said they watched something online because they missed it when it was broadcast.
About 47 percent say they are catching up on a large number of missed episodes from the current season of a TV series.
One-third of respondents reported they were catching up on episodes from a past season before the new season airs. About 32 percent said they watch online because they forgot to set their DVRs for recording.
About 18 percent of the time, online is used because the main set is in use by someone in the household who wants to watch something else. And about 12 percent watch online because they are watching TV at work, while another 12 percent said they watch online when traveling.
Online TV network consumption appears to be an activity set aside in specific sessions from most other online activities, Nielsen said. That makes sense. One could multitask while watching online video in a separate window, but it might be difficult to concentrate on either activity.
When users go online to watch TV shows, that activity dominates that particular online session. In other words, when people decide to watch online video, they tend not to worry about doing anything else on their PCs.
Also, online TV viewing is different from broadcast in other ways. Where main screen TV watching often is a shared activity, online viewing tends to be a solitary affair.
Most attention focused on online video watching tends to suggest that such behavior is an example of “cord cutting,” the replacement of traditional linear TV viewing by online substitutes. The new Nielsen survey suggests this is untrue, at least for the moment. Online video is used as a virtual DVR or substitute to DVD viewing.

Gary Kim (News - Alert) is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Gary’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Marisa Torrieri